First off, this week I would like to thank everyone who viewed last week’s comeback post. I absolutely loved F0xy’s interview and it seems a lot of you did as well. I have put a lot of work into the website the last week including a custom host url now (Thank you Sharpie!) I also have other tabs now to view others streams, content, and hopefully will brainstorm some more ideas that make this all better for you in the community.
Last week First to Ten went back into the life of a professional player so I thought it only appropriate to change it up and get some insight for everyone on what it’s like to be someone behind the scenes. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on the production side of these events? Well we have the scoop for you today from one of our community’s favorite behind the scenes guys.
Brett Bielling was a Technical Director and Producer for ESL during the Mortal Kombat X glory days. Brett helped establish the Pro League we all knew and loved. He has always seemed to have a deep love for NRS titles and the best interest of the players at heart when it comes to the community. He was also the mind behind Kombat Class which was a series that helped many of us with learning the game on a deeper level. Some of you have probably seen him at various events and may not have known what he’s been a part of: well now is the day you will learn.
1. Brett, thank you for joining us. Can you tell everyone who may not know who you are a little about yourself, where you come from, and about what you do for a living.
Hey everyone! My name is Brett Bielling, from Palmdale, CA. I’ve been working full time in esports for about 7 years, after my start in Broadcast Television. I do freelance live production, and am currently working at Red Bull Media House in Santa Monica, CA, where I manage the esports studio and direct the live esports broadcasts for Red Bull HQ, in North America.
2. What got you interested in the FGC? How did you become hooked?
Whether it was games, sports, or school, I was always a competitive person. Growing up, my friends and I all played Melee. I was ranked Top 20 in SoCal around the 2007-2009 pre-brawl-era, before leaving competition to attend college. A good friend of mine named Charles ‘Foxdie’ Lee played MK9 with the Terry Bros and the Vegas crew, and introduced me to NRS games. I was a Scorpion player since before I could remember. I had just moved into a new apartment in 2011, with no internet. I bought MK9, a PS3, and played just training mode for a month straight, and the rest is history…
3. You used to work for ESL, how did Mortal Kombat become involved with them and how did you feel when you found out the pro league was a reality?
The inception of the Pro League was entirely on the shoulders of Joshua Gray. When he made the pitch and told me his goals for creating Pro League, I was ecstatic because of my experiences with MK9. That night I went home and record a 10-min video in one take, which was the genesis of Kombat Class. We also knew that we didn’t have all the answers, so we hunted for local experts. Mike Ross introduced us to Brian Compton. I had attended some of Brian’s EGP tournaments in 2012, so running into each other years later, it felt like fate.
4. What is one of your favorite memories from the MKX Pro League series?
Maaaan, there are so many fond memories. After the Finals of Season 1, standing in a giant circle of my colleagues (ESL and NRS) and the only words I could muster without getting overly emotional were “Thank you”. Fast forward to Week 8 of Season 3, Scar vs Jupiter, one of the most intense matches I’ve ever seen, with huge point implications (It was do or die for Jupiter).
Jupiter did a panic sweep in the corner, and Scar just ran away with the match, with 5% health left. The crew and I nearly melted in the control room, and I haven’t seen Jupiter compete since.
You can watch the re-run here:
5. What is Kombat Class and why did you create such a thing? Do you ever think you’ll bring it back?
Kombat Class was my baby! Would I bring it back? Absolutely! (Time permitting). I was putting out 1 video a week during Season 1 and 2 of MKX Pro League. I’m bullish on educational content, and I put arbitrary constraints on myself like “If I can’t teach a variation in 30 seconds, I’ve failed.” The result was a hyper condensed introduction to a fighter in MKX. It was flashy enough to get you to turn your console on and select that fighter, and introductory level enough for you to learn a few combo paths in 20-30 minutes. The goal: Play, learn, and explore. I captured and performed all the combos, edited, and co-wrote the script with Josh Gray. Also, big shoutout to my motion graphics designer Andrew Aviles. He wasn’t a fighting game expert, but was down to hammer out notes at 4AM with me.
6. What do you love most about NRS fighting games?
NRS games have the highest level of polish of any Fighting game on the market. I love the attention to detail, and the amount of care that goes in, really shines. MKX was no exception. The look, style, sound, and feel of the game is remarkable. You can’t tell me hearing “FINISH HIM!” doesn’t get you hype!
7. Is there anyone you look up to in the world of production that helps influence you in your work?
I learn new things all the time, either through inspiration or technical challenges. “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” moments are some of my favorite times on the job. Creative guys like Cam Reed, and Ian St. Lawrence, at ESL always have had unique views on broadcast. Josh Gray and Brian Compton ask compelling questions, and are the biggest advocates for everything we did or wanted to do for Pro League. Even TO/Admins like Brendan Benedict would have moments that make us all stop and think of ways to improve the show. Head engineer at ESL, Mike Ulaky, is a name you’d never know, but that dude is a damn wizard. I can say with confidence, that MKX Pro League was one of the most beloved shows during my time working there.
8. How do you feel about Injustice 2? Do you have any favorite memories from watching the competitions all of 2017?
I think Injustice 2 is an amazing package. The main attracting thing for me in a fighting game is/are the characters I play, and where I struggled with Injustice 2 is being in constant character crisis. That was also the interesting part of doing Kombat Class, was learning so much, and forcing myself into character archetypes I wouldn’t normally ever touch. My favorite moment has to be IPS Finals in LA, where I got to relax and just be a fan. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the competitors over the course of my time with NRS games, and being there to cheer them on from the other side of the curtain, really helped remind me of why we do this.
9. How do you find time to practice fighting games with such a busy schedule?
No matter how busy I get, I will alway make time just to play. I crave the social recharge. I also really love the mental battle of fighting games, and there isn’t anything quite like outplaying someone in a fast, intense, 1v1 game. I also dabble in games that I have to work on, just to understand how they look at feel for broadcast. That being said, I actually don’t play “a ton” of games overall, but rather a few games, religiously. If I’m not out there slaying nerds in ranked, you can find me laddering on StarCraft 2, or turning my brain off and relaxing with some World of Warcraft.
10. Will you be attending any majors this year we can see you at?
I hope so! I made it to Combo Breaker last year, and really hope to make it back, along with a few others. If the schedule permits, I’d like to make it out for 4-5 events this year across the US and possibly international. If not, hit me up on Twitter (@brettbielling) and we can get some games on PS4!
If you wanna look up some of the Kombat Klass videos you can here:
As always, thank you for coming by the blog. I hope you all appreciate the better and new look to it.
Always looking for more feedback in the comments to make this better!